Friday, November 20, 2009

David Mamet's RACE, on Broadway

I seem to be busy: going to these shows, but it was my birthday and we decided to just have some fun.

"RACE" opened for previews on November 16th and we saw it on the 19th. I am sure that there is some tweaking to be done, but all was pretty buttoned up.

Problem is, the play seems as if Mamet found the script, put away earlier in time, and decided to bring it to Broadway now. The subject matter is old and current at the same time, but what did I learn from it? He didn't bring a different perspective to light. It is possible to say that the play showed that nothing much has changed on the subject of race, but then I have to ask why do it? There are some lines which mention that it was different years ago when racism was so obvious, but again, we already knew that.

Now the cast: James Spader is playing a lawyer, just like the one he played on TV. I feel that his dialogue was more interesting in one of his "Boston Legal" speeches than it was in the play. And he delivered it better on TV. David Alan Grier did a very convincing job but his role was secondary to Spader. Richard Thomas was dull as was Kerry Washington. She read her lines as one usually reads them in a Mamet play, but her delivery was flat.

Richard Thomas's character was supposed to be a very rich man, but the way he was dressed, as if his clothes needed a bit more tailoring, made me wonder if a point was being made, or was it just a poor choice of costume design?

I hope my comments help.


timetraveler said...

I have already seen this show twice and loved it both times. I thought that both James Spader and David Alan Grier did a great job. It is interesting because I do not see Alan Shore (Boston Legal character) at all in James Spader's performance, except perhaps in the buttoning and unbuttoning of his jacket and the voice is the same. I love Mamet's verbiage and found both Spader and Grier to be masterful in their deliveries even this early in the run.

I don't think that Mamet is trying to bring a new "perspective to light", but rather to show four different perspectives dealing with the same issue. Each character brings a lifetime of issues and ideas to the table. We as the audience are left to see how each character's personal baggage influences how they perceive what is occuring during a racially charged incident. A longer title for this work could be "secrets, lies, and race".

ShelleySays said...

Funny title. I get the joke. I still don't think it was up to Mamet's work. The 4 different perspectives are nothing new - how many times have we had these type of discussions?

My husband and I looked at one another and both said he is coming across as the same character on BL, but hey, everyone has their own opinions and that is what makes us all unique. And what makes a discussion possible.

Regardless, I was glad to see the play, but since it opened a few days ago, I am surprised you saw it twice. Maybe it was a work in progress somewhere else.

timetraveler said...

My best friend and I had tickets for the 16th and enjoyed the show enough that we purchased tickets for the following evening. We wanted to see what kind of changes Mamet might make between the first and second night of previews. We also have tickets for opening night on the 6th of December in order to see how the play and performances have progressed over the previews. This is what makes live theatre is a changing process and you never see the exact same show twice, even if the dialog stays the same.

ShelleySays said...

This paragraph is taken from an article written by Mamet for the NYT:

I have never spent much time thinking about the themes of my plays, as, I have noticed, when an audience begins to talk about the play’s theme, it means the plot was no good. But my current play does have a theme, and that theme is race and the lies we tell each other on the subject.

So be it. But it doesn't change my feelings about the quality of the play.